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Feature Story

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Boeing Photo: Marian Lockhart

Rocky, a Belgian Malinois security dog, at Boeing Field in Seattle. He recently retired from Boeing's K-9 unit and now enjoys a leisurely life with his handler Scott Potter.

Rocky retires after "56 years" at Boeing

Rocky was a unique employee in more ways than one.

For one thing, counted in dog years Rocky is a Belgian Malinois he worked at Boeing for more than five decades before recently retiring. What's more, Rocky was the only Boeing explosive detection dog who could track a moving scent.

"He could identify someone holding an explosive as they walked through a building, on the flight line or in the midst of a large crowd of people," said Scott Potter, Rocky's handler.

Rocky is certified to identify nine types of explosives and more than 17,000 explosive compounds. During his eight (human) years with the Boeing K-9 Explosive Detection Dog unit he searched about 45,000 trucks and 50 aircraft, as well as patrolling countless VIP events.

"We've been together so long that sometimes I forget how good he really is."

"Rocky is a model dog," according to Potter. "We've been together so long that sometimes I forget how good he really is. He was always alert and responsive at work, except for the naps he used to take on trips between sites. Rocky was one of the few Boeing employees allowed to sleep on the job!"

The detection dogs are on call every day to maintain the safety and security of employees and visitors. While an outside agency evaluates and certifies the dogs to ensure their senses remain effective for their work, Potter and the other handlers feed, exercise and care for the dogs.

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Boeing Photo: Marian Lockhart

Tycho, a mixed-breed rescue dog, has some big paws to fill with Boeing's K-9 unit. He's taking over for Rocky.

Boeing has 18 bomb detection dogs, some of which are rescues, and is committed to finding new ones from shelters whenever possible.

Tycho, a mixed-breed rescue, is such a dog. He is Potter's new partner and he's learning from the best: Rocky is helping to train him.

Note: We've received several questions about how Rocky spends his retirement time. Happy to report that he plays, sleeps, eats and enjoys his days with three other dogs in the house.